A Life Contrary

living a life out of the ordinary

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

Recipe Corner: Roasting a Whole Chicken

I will be completely honest.  I have struggle with whether or not I want to share this particular recipe/trick.  It’s a favorite of mine and I love being able to wow people when you pull out a whole roasted chicken that looks and smells amazing.

However, it is such a simple thing to do, I just can’t resist.  It seems quite daunting when you see that entire bird at the grocery store.  I think it evokes ideas of Thanksgiving turkeys and an enormous day of slaving over a stove or in a kitchen.

But it really isn’t that at all.  Roasting a chicken is one of the simplest preparations ever!  Cutting it up after you’ve roasted it is really the hardest part and there’s really not a lot to it.

The first time I got a whole chicken and brought it home, I really had no clue what to do.  I just knew that it was on sale and I could really get my money’s worth from it (or so I thought.  Turns out that it was SO yummy that my boys ate almost the whole thing in one meal).  I did what most the women of my generation do when they are saddled with tough culinary tasks – I looked on Pinterest (points are given for googling it, too).

When I came across this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, I was dumbfounded.  Could it really be that easy?  Yes.  Yes, it can.  Since that first day, I have roasted many a chicken.  Sometimes I still follow that recipe and sometimes I just go with whatever I have around the house.  Usually when I have a recipe, I like to follow it closely the first time I prepare a dish, but after that, all bets are off.

Here’s the basic gist (for the actual recipe, go here):

3-4lb Whole Chicken

Something to stuff inside (apples, onion, citrus fruit, carrots, celery, other root veg, garlic, etc)

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Herbs (fresh or dried)


Preheat oven to 450*

Stuff the chicken (you won’t be eating this part so you don’t have to worry about peelings or precious knife skills

Pat the chicken dry (this ensures a nice browning and crust)

Mix herbs, salt, pepper, and oil together and rub all over the bird (if using fresh, make sure you remove the stems before chopping)

Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes, until brown and cooked through

Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting (this keeps the juices in the chicken and off your cutting board)


Yes, it really is that easy and yes, it really is that impressive.  Seriously, you should do this.  Probably tonight.  Check out the Pioneer Woman’s blog for extra tips on roasting a chicken and go here to learn how to cut it up once it’s cooked.


Five Friday Favorites: Names of God


Honey.  Mom.  Stac.  Friend.  Ed.  Sister. These are a few of the names that I answer to on a regular basis.  There are several more.  Some are used daily and some are used only on special occasions.  Each one is used in specific circumstances or by specific people to denote a certain aspect of my character – what makes me, me.

The same is true for God.  As we get to know more and more about Him, we learn different parts of His character.  As we learn these, we learn different names to call Him in different situations, what to call out when we have a specific need.  Today, as part of the linkup with mrsdisciple.com I want to explore a few of the many names of God.

Here are 5 Names of God and what they mean to me:

1.) El Roi – This name is used in Genesis when Hagar is mistreated by Sarah and runs away.  As Hagar takes her son and flees, completely distraught, God comes to her.  The name she uses is El Roi, which means “The God who Sees.”  I love this name because just like Hagar, there  are times when I feel like I am all alone.  I feel like my afflictions are completely mine alone to deal with, but they aren’t.  I’m not alone.  I have a God who sees me.  I have a God who sees what is going on with me and knows what I am going through in every detail.

2.) Jehovah Jireh – “God provides” is one of the more known names of God.  I find it especially comforting.  God knows my need and he provides for each and every one of them.  It doesn’t matter what is going on in my life, God will provide.

3.)  Adonai – a name that usually denotes the OT name for Jesus.  It translates to Lord and Master.  It is special for me because you have to know Jesus as Lord before you can really know Him as anything else.  You must let Him have complete rule and reign of your life.

4.) El Elyon – God Most High.  One of the most majestic names for our God.  I love the imagery that this name evokes.  I love the perspective that it gives me when I acknowledge my God as Most High.  It helps me to know my place and trust Him more and more.

5.)  Jehovah Nissi – The Lord is my Banner.  When all seems lost and I’m not feeling very victorious I like to think of this name.  In battle, each army have their banners that they fly acknowledging their force.  When I feel like I am failing, I just need to look at Jehovah Nissi and know that the Lord is my banner and flies over me.  He is my victory.

There are many resources to learn about the names of God, first and foremost is just by reading your Bible.  Most will have the names of God highlighted or you can get a really great study Bible to help.  Also make sure you head over to the linkup at mrsdisciple.com to see what everyone else is saying about the Names of God.

5 Names of God

Essential Oils: Real or Fad?

I’m sure that by this point, you’ve heard of essential oils.  If someone in your immediate circle hasn’t started using them or talked about them, then your neighbor’s cousin or your kid’s BFF’s mother has said something about them.  They are pretty much everywhere.

There’s a good reason for that.  They work.  And they’re kind of awesome.

It seems that everyone is kind of split on them.  Either you love them or you think it’s some kind of weird useless voodoo.  There is a bit of middle ground, but it seems pretty narrow.  I do have people in my life that fall into both of these camps.

It took me a while to get into them, but about two years ago, we decided to try them almost as an experiment.  I had a friend who sold them so I contacted her and got two bottles of popular blends – one for breathing and one for colds, etc.  I was completely amazed at how well they worked.  I went from using an inhaler to just using the oil.

Now, I won’t say that oils work for everyone and there are factors that are unique to each person (so what may work for my hormonal balance may not work for yours or what works for your headache may not work for mine).  There’s a lot of science to it and I won’t go into it all now.  You can do your own research on how oils work.

There are also a lot of choices on different brands.  There’s been a lot of talk about which brand is better.  I did my own research which consisted of reading a lot of blogs, articles, and histories and talking to a LOT of people a lot smarter than me.  Because the truth is not all oils are the same.

There are some oils that should only be used aromatically basically as air freshener, to make your house smell good or in cleaning products.  And there are some that just shouldn’t be used at all.  I will say that there is a brand that I picked to become a distributor for and I will share that at some point.  However, I will say that any of the top three are really good (Young Living, DoTerra, and Ameo).  Read the testimonials and decide which one is best for you and your budget.

So my final verdict is that I do believe that essential oils are the real deal.  However, they are not one size fits all.  You have to put in the work to learn about them, how they work, and what ones work for you.  There are some basics that will help you get started.

Here are a couple that I recommend if you are just beginning.  To start, I’d go with a cold blend:  Thieves (YL), OnGuard (DT), or ProShield (Ameo).  Also, a good beginner set is Peppermint, Lemon, and Lavender.  There are a lot of things you can do with just these three oils.  Tea Tree is also a great addition.

If you have any questions or want to know more about essential oils, feel free to contact me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Physical Health Goals – Running

Currently, physical health isn’t one of my strong suits.  I am in good general health, but I am quite a bit… fluffier than I’d like and I may have gone back up a pants size.  One of the greatest lies women (or most humans) believe is that if they cannot achieve instant good health, then they shouldn’t try.


When most people talk about health, they are generally referring to their physical health.  Traditionally most people put an unbalanced effort on physical negating the other pillars of health.  Some err on the opposite side and neglect physical in favor of the others.  But we can’t do that; there must be balance.

At the beginning of the year, on my goals list, I added one item that would directly influence my physical health:  Running.

I should clarify that I AM NOT a runner.  I have always wanted to be.  There’s just something beautiful about runners and running and it has always appealed to me (well, not always, I did have a doctor’s note that got me out of running in junior high).  I also enjoy it.  Well, I enjoy it for the first few minutes and then I hate it, but the joy does return a couple hours after I have recovered.

A couple years ago, I signed up to do a 5K.  It had been a bit of a “bucket list” item and something I’d just always thought would be cool to do, yet never really expected to.  Then a friend called and asked if I’d do it with her.  It turned out that accountability did the trick.  Not wanting to look like an idiot or collapse, I began to train around March for the 5K that I’d be running in August.

You would think that 5 months would be adequate time to train, right?  I mean, the Couch to 5K app is only 3 months.  You’d be wrong.  I did do the 5K and I probably had a decent time (for me).  However, I was still walking more than I was actually running.

After the 5K I took a little time off, but then I started back.  The hubs and I kept at it for several months, pretty much until it got cold.  We went to the fitness center a few times, but it didn’t have the appeal of going and running at our favorite park.  We decided to stop for a bit and then pick it back up when things warmed up.  This was Tennessee after all, warm weather is normally just around the corner.

That was a year ago.  I’ve been saying that I’ll start running again since we stopped.  And I’ve done a bit here and there.  Last summer, I got my Fitbit and I worked hard for several months to get to those step goals.  But even that has largely fallen to the wayside.

Why?  Well, the simple answer is that I’m lazy and that I feel overwhelmed.  There is SO much going on right now that I just don’t take the time to prioritize running and by extension my physical health.  I also fail to realize how much each pillar is intertwined.  When I run, it helps my mental and emotional health, too.  All those “I run to burn off the crazy” memes do have some validity.

I will say that it has been pretty cold (10-inches of snow, anyone?) and my treadmill is packed up in storage.  However, I still need to make the mental effort to take those walks when warm weather does appear so that when we do finally get to spring, I’ll be ready.  It may still take me 6-12 months to complete the 3-month running program, but I do want to get there.  No matter how long it takes.

I do have several other aspects of my physical health that I’m working on, but this is a major focus.  Keep me accountable.  If we see each other in real life, ask me about my running.  Check back in this summer (or hopefully more frequently than that) and see if I actually run another 5K, or possible even a half marathon! (This is my ultimate goal)

How do you take care of your physical health?

Inside Out, Emotions, and the Logos

Ah, emotional health.  I thought about skipping this one.  Or finding a new topic for this week.  But since I’ve already talked about spiritual health and mental health, I figured I’d need to tackle the emotional at some point (tune in next week for physical health!)

Purely for research purposes, I watched Disney’s Inside Out this weekend.  I’d heard great things about it and I was pretty excited.  It’s no secret that our family is dealing with some extreme stress in this season (we are living in a camper), so I thought it would be a bit cathartic and fun for the family.  I’d heard great things and was pretty excited to see it.

I was underwhelmed.

I mean, it is a cute movie, but let’s be honest, it’s a pretty bad message, right?  This idea that we are solely governed by emotions.  We have a family, each with personified emotions calling the shots in their head.  The dad, with Anger in the lead.  The mom, who for some reason has Sadness in charge.  And their 11-year old daughter, Riley, who has the bubbly Joy at the helm.

I’ll admit that it is cute and at times it is hilarious.  However, I just couldn’t get past the premise.  Perhaps I’ve read Lysa TerKuerst’s Unglued one too many times, but I can’t get behind the idea that we are completely governed by emotion.  If we’re blessed and have pleasant “core memories” then we can have Joy reigning, but what about those unfortunate souls who end up with Fear or Disgust ruling in her stead?

The movie wraps up with the noble notion that each emotion has it’s place and even if we don’t enjoy Anger or Sadness, they are still needed if for no other reason than to shed light on the happier times.  I get that.  And that’s good.  After all, my favorite line from the Doctor Who episode Blink is “Sadness is happy for deep people.”  (Okay, there are a lot of favorite lines from that episode.)

But even with that, there is an idea that we are merely emotional beings going through life with the hope that Joy rather than any other is the predominant emotion running our life.  And that’s just wrong.

Ms. TerKuerst does state in her book that emotions are indicators, not dictators of our life.  We are not helpless and subjected to the rule of our emotions.  No, we are blessed because we can choose how to behave.  Sure, we may feel sad or angry, but we are able to overcome that feeling.  Not because of another emotion fighting away to make sure we don’t get too angry or disgusted.  No, we’re able to act in a different way because we, as humans, have the mental capacity for logic and reason to overcome our emotion – not be ruled by them.

Our emotions do play a part.  We can’t merely ignore them or cast them away.  I’m definitely NOT saying that.  Our emotions are indicators of what we are feeling.  We have to decide whether or not this is an appropriate thing to act on or whether we are being irrational and out of place.  Our emotions are valid.  We do feel these things.  But that doesn’t mean that they are right.  Sometimes we need outside help with this.  This is where accountability and community come into place.

We are meant to live in community for just this reason.  Our first line of emotional accountability should be our family.  Ideally, your spouse or parent should be able to help.  If this isn’t the case, you may need to step outside that to a church setting.  Seek help from a brother or sister or your pastor.  If this still doesn’t resolve, you may need to go a step beyond and seek out a good Christian counselor to help.

Emotional health is a huge part of your whole person.  It’s also so ultimately relative to your person that it’s hard to make a universal.  This is why the other pillars of health are so key.  If you are working hard to be healthy mentally, spiritually, and physically, then emotional will usually, though not always, fall into place.

In the end, we have to remember that though our emotions are good and valid, they aren’t the ultimate and supreme end.  If you are saved and you have the Holy Spirit to guide you then you can absolutely live above being ruled by emotions.  After all, we do know that Jesus is called the Logos is Scripture.  This is usually translated as Word, but if you’ll look closely you can see this is where we also get our word Logic.  

Five Friday Favorites: Love


Today, we’re talking about love, which is great since my favorite holiday is coming up:  Discount chocolate day, aka the day after Valentines Day.  However, since Valentines does have to happen for the chocolate to be discounted, I thought it would be fun to spend a little time on the main way we celebrate that holiday.

So, for those of you who didn’t know, in the ancient Greek, there are several words used for love.  How awesome is that?  Because really I hate that I have to use the same word – love- to describe my enjoyment of Mexican food, my husband, and my God.  And really I do love all those things.  It’s just a different kind.  I’m definitely no expert in ancient Greece or love, but I thought it’d be fun to look the bare basics of a few forms of love.  Here are a few of the more common usages:

  1. Éros – This is one of the most common forms of love and the general one we think of when we think of love.  It’s the romantic/physical type of love.  Think of any romantic comedy you’ve ever seen… that’s generally what’s considered eros.  However, eros is SO much more.  Plato redefined eros as an appreciation of the beauty within a person (this is how we get the term “platonic”).  Can you imagine?  Look at your spouse, with whom you share the most intimate affection, and see the beauty within that person.  Not married?  No worries.  Think of Jesus.  Spend a little bit of time meditating on the beauty within Jesus.
  1. Philia, or philos – This should look pretty familiar.  Philia is the term for affectionate regard, or friendship.  Having trouble remembering that one?  Think of the city in Pennsylvania:  Philadelphia – the city of brotherly love!  This is one that generally comes pretty naturally to us.  It is pretty easy to show love to our friends and family.  Aristotle, however, stated that philos requires virtue, equality, and familiarity.  Try to look at your friends and family in this way.  Treat them with virtue, equality, and familiarity.
  1. Storge (pronounced stor-gay) – This is most often linked with empathy, specifically of that within families and most often parent and child.  This is extremely relational.  How complex is familial love!  Whether it is your parents, children, or a family of your own choosing, family relationships are among some of the most difficult to navigate.  However, I really like this idea of empathy in relation to your familial relationships.  Loving family can be really difficult at times, but try to realize that they probably feel the same about loving you.
  1. Xenia – This is “love of stranger.”  Today we would think xenia comparable to hospitality.  It’s fun to hang out with our friends and go to a restaurant or spend time at church.  But how often do you invite people over to your home?  I think that hospitality is a lost art.  I think we often think we have to spend a crazy amount of money or time making everything perfect and we don’t realize that expressing xenia isn’t about any of that.  It’s merely treating those outside your family as if they are a part of it.  Warts and all.  Don’t be scared, just reach out and love.
  1. Agape – I deliberately saved this one for last.  Probably the most well-known and the most misused form of love.  Agape is rightly defined as a “Godly love.”  This is not only the love that God has for us, but also the love that we are to have for one another.  It isn’t just a feeling, like eros or philia.  Agape is much more akin to a choosing of love, or a mental assent.  Sometimes we have to make a deliberate choice to love someone, even if we aren’t particularly feeling it at the time.  This is what is spoken of when we are called to love our enemies.  We aren’t asked to have an intimate feeling, or even to have a friendly feeling, merely the idea that we are choosing to love this person because God loves us and He is love and enables us to love others.

Sometimes loving is difficult.  Sometimes we can only make a choice to regard and respect that person and that’s okay.  The main thing to remember is that God is love and it is through Him that loving is possible at all.  I challenge you to pick one of these forms of love and express it this Valentine’s Day.  Bonus points if you can find a way to express all FIVE!

Need a few more ideas on sharing and showing love?  Check out these other blogs as a part of the linkup with mrsdisciple.com.

Liturgical Living: Lent

Liturgical Living

I have a bit of a confession.  I love liturgy and the liturgical calendar.  Why is this shocking?  I’m technically not “liturgical,” meaning I worship at a church/tradition that doesn’t observe the liturgical year formally.  I don’t adhere to the liturgical calendar strictly, but I do believe that there are a few things that non-liturgicals can gain from it.

The purpose of the liturgical calendar is to draw us closer to Jesus by observing the year against the backdrop of His life.  Since we tend to divvy up our year with special days and holidays anyway, we might as well do it through the lens of Jesus and Scripture, right?  So, instead of “Sweetest Day” (that’s an actual thing), you might celebrate Epiphany.

Right now, we are entering the season of Lent.  This marks 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Resurrection Day, or Easter, and begins on Ash Wednesday.  In traditional Ash Wednesday services, you would “receive the ashes” in the form of a cross on your forehead to symbolize inner repentance of sins.

Because that is what Lent is all about.  Many tend to focus on the “giving up” part of Lent without truly understanding the real purpose of it.  The three main focuses of Lent are repentance, prayer, and almsgiving.  You can fast from whatever you may chose during Lent, but if that is all you do, then you are missing some of the biggest blessings of this liturgical observance.

To read the rest of this post, head over to Mama Revival Series. Make sure to check out her entire series on Lent!

Lessons from Genesis

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’ve probably read Genesis at least 10 times.  No, it isn’t because it’s my favorite book or because I just love reading it.  Rather, it is because I commit to those “Read through the Bible in a Year” plans pretty often.  Usually I taper off around Numbers, only to try again next year.

So it’s been that I begin with the best intentions and then fail to follow through.  This year, however, I took a different approach.  I haven’t committed to reading through the Bible in a designated amount of time; I’ve just committed to reading the Bible.  My hope and my goal is to be in the Word!

I’m not so worried with how much I read or when I check off each book.  I just want to be in God’s Word and learning more about Him.  I tend to favor reading large chunks of text at time.  I comprehend more and feel like I get more out of the context instead of just reading a couple verses here and there.

With that in mind, I embarked on 1 January on the She Reads Truth Genesis devotions.  So yet, again, I have read through Genesis.  This time, though, without guilt or rush or an insurmountable goal ahead of me.  I just opened my Bible (or more often my Bible app) and read.  And I did complete the entire book by the end of January.

As with most of Scripture, I had new things jump out at me and renewed fondness for things I’d read a million times.  Nothing stood out to me more, though, than the newness and new beginnings of Genesis.  I think we often overlook the beauty of that.  We see the formation and creation of the world and of God’s people, Israel.

How fitting is it, then, to read Genesis at the beginning of a new year?  How awesome is it to see your own beginnings written out by inspiration of the Creator himself?  I loved seeing both how God created mankind and also how He worked to set apart a designated people for Himself and I count it a joy and a privilege to be one of those that He’s set apart.

I’m not sure where I’ll be reading next, in this interim before Lent, I may continue on to Exodus or I may follow a different reading plan, but I do know that I want to continue in His Word and continue to get to know my Lord and spend that time with Him each day.

Five Friday Favorites: Dates


Well, this is a bit of a difficult one for me.  It has been a while since the hubs and I have been on a real date (watching Fringe on the couch doesn’t exactly count).  However, I’ve been blessed because we’ve been on some doozies.  I know that some of these aren’t going to be applicable to everyone, but hopefully there will be a little something for everyone.  So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite dates with my hubs:

1.  Our last Navy Ball – I know this isn’t an experience that everyone can share, but oh, my, I can’t have a list without it.  It got to the point that I was so over shopping for a ball gown and going to yet another military ball.  I really had taken them for granted.  However, for our last one, we made it special.  I wore my favorite ball dress.  NGD’s command was so fun so we were able to sit with friends and really enjoy the evening.  I even got a dance out of him!  The O Club served cheesecake for dessert (NOT one of my faves), so the Captain told Nathan he had to get me dessert before we went home.  So we went through the drive thru at McDonald’s in our ball clothes and got me a hot fudge sundae (so good!).

2.  Handel’s Messiah & Fine Dining – We are blessed to have some dear friends that live near us around Nashville.  A couple years ago, we were able to go the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall and see the Nashville Symphony perform Handel’s Messiah.  Before the music, we went to a fun restaurant downtown, Etch.  It was fine dining, which is something we rarely get.  It would have been great no matter, but it was all the more sweet since we were able to share it with friends.

3.  Marriage Seminar – Most people thought we were having marital problems when I posted on FB that I was going to see Paul Tripp speak on marriage at a conference downtown.  We weren’t.  It was just how we decided to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  It was a Friday night/Saturday morning thing, so after the morning session, we went to a little brunch place and talked about all the cool things we’d heard and learned over the weekend.  Brunch, Paul Tripp, and theological discussions with my husband = a great time!

4.  Private Concert of “Broken Together” by Mark Hall – Okay, I understand that this one is super subjective, but it was still AWESOME!  A few days before our 14th wedding anniversary, I went to see a taping of The Chat with Priscilla Shirer (if you haven’t seen her show, check it out!).  The guests were Mark & Melanie Hall.  He’s the lead singer for Casting Crowns.  They were speaking on marriage.  It was awesome.  The song “Broken Together” was about to drop, so he and another member of the band were going to perform.  I was amazed when I saw that the rest of the audience was leaving.  NGD & Chas were out in the parking lot waiting on me, so I asked if they could come in and hear the performance.  The producer said, “Sure.” So I ran and got them and we all spent a little time chatting with Mark Hall and Priscilla Shirer.  Then Mark sang that song and I cried and cried.  If you haven’t heard that song, go listen to it now!

5.  Fazzoli’s and the mall – This is one that will work for just about anyone in any situation.  A few Christmases ago, we were running low on funds and couldn’t really afford to do much during our church’s “Parents’ Night Out” but we didn’t want to lose the opportunity for a special date night.  So, we dropped Chas off and used a 2-for-1 coupon at Fazzoli’s (breadsticks!) and then went and walked around the mall.  It was supposed to be Christmas shopping, but it quickly turned into an expedition to Earthbound Trading and the other “hippie” stores in the mall.  It was really nothing and certainly nothing extravagant, but it was a special time with my special guy and I still remember it fondly.

In the end, you don’t have to do anything expensive to have a great date.  Even some of the more outrageous things we’ve done were made special by the company and the experience.  Heck, even the symphony tickets were a gift.  Ultimately, a great date isn’t measured by what you do, but who you do it with.

January Book Report

Searching for Sunday

Rachel Held Evans is divisive.  She’s a blogger and writer.  And she’s made a career out of doubting her faith, asking tough questions, and writing about them.  It’s a nice gig, if you can get it.

To date, I’ve read two of her books.  This doesn’t mean I’m a fan of hers or that I agree with her positions.  I do agree that she’s bold enough to speak her mind and not shy away from admitting that she doubts and has questions.  Just like the rest of us.

In Searching for Sunday, Evans uses a beautiful literary device transposing the traditional sacraments of the Church with her own struggles and journey of faith.  While discussing Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick, and Marriage, she navigates the journey she’s been on for the past several years.

Her story isn’t new and it isn’t revelatory, but it is necessary.  I don’t always agree with her conclusions and I rarely agree with her theology, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy this book.  Like with most of her writing, you don’t have to agree with where she ends up, you just have to understand the journey.

And I do.

I often struggle with doubt.  Mine may not be in the same ways or on the same scale as Evans, but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate.  In addition to the beauty of her writing, Evans is a master of bringing forth conversations that need to be had, sometimes unapologetic and sometimes overly apologetic.

Evans writes what she knows and this book is no different.  It is largely personal and covers what she’s gone through over the past several years struggling with Evangelicalism, a foray into the Emergent, and landing in a small Episcopalian church.  It deals largely with her hurts and her pains and how God has healed and helped her, as well as the areas where she’s still hurting.

In the end, even though I enjoyed this book, I don’t know that I would recommend this book to just the average reader or faith doubter.  You have to be on a certain foundation, I think, to get the most out of Ms. Evans’ writing.  However, for those who have the basics down, but still question would be as enamored with this book as I was.

Post Navigation